The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Monday said that Bayelsa performed poorly in 2017 vaccination programme due to false alarm that vaccination was the remote cause of monkey pox.
Dr Okposen Bassey, the Programme Manager in the agency, said this when a delegation of NPHCDA visited the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council in Yenagoa.
Bassey said that the false alarm scared most parents from providing their children for immunization in the state.
He appealed to the traditional rulers to assure their subjects that vaccines used by the Federal Government for immunization of children across the country were very safe.
“Bayelsa performed poorly because there is this false alarm that the vaccination programme was the remote cause of the recent outbreak of monkey pox in the state.
“So, our new strategy to get the children immunized in 2018 is to engage compound chiefs across the state.
“Their duty is to take record of children born daily in the state, and then we would in turn take list of children immunized across health centres in the state daily.
This would help us keep track of children that have not received immunization.
“Also, you would help us assure your subjects that vaccines used by the Federal Government for immunization of children across the country are very safe.
“You will help to assure them that they don’t have any need to raise any suspicion over the exercise that is presently ongoing,” he said.
A survey conducted by NPHCDA, the agency had placed Bayelsa as the only state in the southern part of the country that performed poorly in the 2017 immunization exercise.
The agency said Bayelsa had only 47 per cent coverage of all anti-genes used all over Nigeria.
The Chairman of the council, H.R.M. King Alfred Diete-Spiff, said there was the need for the state government and traditional institutions to partner to reverse the statistics.
Diete-Spiff, who described the performance as alarming, said the council would work with all relevant agencies for children across the state to benefit from the ongoing 2018 immunization programme.
Addressing newsmen after the visit, Dr Taremobowei Egberepou, the Director of Primary Healthcare Department in the state’s Ministry of Health, said the state government had started working on how to reverse the trend.
“So, we have looked at the immediate and remote cause of the poor coverage that we have and we found out that the people have not participated and taken ownership of the programme enough.
“In fact, for Bayelsa to be the only state in the Niger Delta to perform badly in the exercise is alarming enough to make us think outside the box.
“To resolve this problem, we are reconsidering our traditional structures and rulers that serve as gate-keepers in the society.
“This time, we intend to partner with them because they have strong influence on the people when it comes to immunization.
“With this strategy, we hope to take Bayelsa State out of that ranking soon,” he said.